Legislator files complaint against marriage equality judge

Tony Tinderholt

Rep. Tony Tinderholt

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, filed a complaint against a state judge who permitted a Travis County couple to wed last week, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The complaint against District Judge David Wahlberg was filed with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday, Feb. 19.

In his complaint, Tinderholt believes “Wahlberg failed to give notice to the office of Attorney General of Texas which is required by statutory law under government code…Constitutional challenge by a judge requires notice and must wait until 45 days after to enter final judgment.”

“This judge deliberately violated statutory law and this is unacceptable,” Tinderholt told the Chronicle. ”This complaint and any action, which the legislature decides to take, is about ensuring that our judicial system respects the laws of our state and respects the separation of powers. Judge Wahlberg allowed his personal views to dictate his action and ignored state law to accomplish his desired outcome.”

The freshman Arlington legislator defeated Diane Patrick of Arlington in a contentious GOP primary last year.

—  James Russell

Mitt Romney not running for president in 2016. Francis Underwood responds

mitt_romney_2012Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, announced in a conference call this morning (Friday, Jan. 30) he will not be running for president.

Thank (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney said in a statement, which he planned to read to supporters on the call.

Rumors had swirled Romney was mulling another run after he lost to President Obama in 2012. The two-time GOP nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Republican told donors a few weeks ago he was mulling a third run. But according to the Associated Press, major GOP bundlers, who previously backed Romney, said they plan to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Other former Romney operatives have also jumped onto Bush’s presumed campaign.

Bush announced last month he is mulling a run for the nation’s top post, following in the foot steps of his father, George H.W. Bush, and brother George W. Bush. Jeb’s son is first-term Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, formerly of Fort Worth.

But in politics there will be curve balls. And Francis Underwood, the fictional president on Netflix’s hit series House of Cards, is full of ‘em. He chimed in with some advice on Twitter:

Here’s hoping he doesn’t heed Underwood’s advice. And if he does, here’s hoping Olivia Pope will derail him.

—  James Russell

Sally Kern withdraws anti-gay bill

KernSallyLoRes

Sally Kern

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, withdrew a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people, according to Tulsa World.

Her bill, “the Business Protection Act,” read:

“No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.”

She said the bill wouldn’t have done what she intended for it to do, and she’s right. Instead, it would have been declared unconstitutional and, in its ruling, any court would have said the law was based on animus and turned sexual orientation and gender identity into protected classes.

Oklahoma state Sen. Kay Floyd, a Democrat, who is lesbian, said, “This is great news. Your letters, emails, and calls are already making a difference. The sooner we defeat the rest of these divisive and unconstitutional bills, the sooner we can get back to working for everyday Oklahomans.”

Kern submitted two other anti-gay bills so far this session. One prevents taxpayer money and government salaries from licensing or supporting same-sex marriage. The other is called the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act.”

—  David Taffet

Same-sex couple buys JebBushforPresident.com

As I wrote yesterday, the 2016 GOP presidential primary is in full swing.

Candidates are rallying the base, forming political action committees and laying their ground game.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has done all of that. But somehow Bush forgot to purchase JebBushforpresident.com.

One’s man mistake is another man’s opportunity. Or, in this case, a gay couple’s opportunity. According to to Business Insider, CJ Phillips and Charlie Rainwater work in the tech industry and live in Portland, Ore. The tech bears told B.I. they bought the domain in 2008.

Here’s the text (click on the image to see a larger version if you are having trouble reading it):

Bears Jeb Bush

I’ve sent an email to the couple. I’ll update this post later today if I hear from them.

—  James Russell

Konni Burton and other legislators attend energy briefing with quacks

10922581_215067605334889_3678561947259798580_oThere’s no need to bring your pitchforks and white hoods when you become a freshman in the Texas Lege. There are other people you meet down there who will bring all that — and a tin foil hat too.

Take, for instance, the photo to the right. It was posted on Senator Konni Burton’s Facebook page, from which I haven’t been blocked yet.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday, Jan. 21) she and other legislators attended an Energy Infrastructure Security Breakfast Briefing sponsored by fellow North Texas Republican legislators Rep. Tan Parker and Sen. Kelly Hancock. The guests of honor were, as you see, Frank Gaffney and Dr. Peter Vincent Fry.

Gaffney and Fry make Ted Cruz look like a kind and gentle grandmother.

Gaffney’s one helluva sweetheart. He’s a border-closing, right-wing warmongering Islamophobe who clings to his Bullion as much as his convictions. A champion of our 2003 march into Iraq (get the energy connection now?), he later threw around accusations that everybody and anybody was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Most notably he alleged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin was a conspirator in the Brotherhood, a claim also supported by former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Gaffney set up a legitimate-sounding front shop for his whackodom called the Center for Security Policy. You can read more about him here.

Fry is concerned about the nuclear arsenal as executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, according to his Family Security Matters profile. He predicts the world is going to end a lot. He’s so concerned about our families’ security matters he formed The Noah Project, which is “dedicated to the civil defense and survival of American families and their communities in the event of a nuclear or solar EMP or any other catastrophic event that would affect societal change in America.”

They’ve formed two compounds — one already sold out — where you can live off their products and proven method. Funny enough, the website didn’t even mention the word “militia.”

Later that day, Sen. Burton voted with 19 other senators (including one Democrat) to gut the Senate’s two-thirds rule, which required 21 senators to even debate legislation. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick actively campaigned against the rule on the campaign trail.

He got what he asked for. The chamber voted to replace it with a three-fifths rule, requiring only 19 senators instead. Many observers say the two-thirds rule worked in the Democrats’ favor, and propelled Burton’s predecessor Wendy Davis to international fame by allowing her to filibuster legislation. (Incidentally, the rule propelled Burton into her current career as well.)

Folks, these are the people who represent you, whether you voted for them or not. They are taking advice from folks like Gaffney and Fry. They listen to the Eagle Forum’s virulently anti-LGBT Cathie Adams and take big checks from archconservative Republican millionaires. They are recruited and polished by fringe groups like Gaffney’s. And they run Texas.

After the briefing, legislators could ask questions. I wonder what they asked.

—  James Russell

An open letter to Sen.-elect Konni Burton, who blocked me on Twitter

house-of-cards-quotes-1Jan. 7, 2015

Dear Sen.-elect Konni Burton:

Next Tuesday, Jan. 13, you will be sworn into the Texas Senate. After more than a year of campaigning, you will become Senator Konni Burton, the conservative Republican representing Senate District 10 in the Lone Star State.

You declared your candidacy in a video by slamming your predecessor, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, for her filibuster against anti-abortion legislation. By running in Texas’ only competitive Senate district, you knew you’d be in the national spotlight. Judging by your campaign finance records after declaring your candidacy, you certainly became a national sensation.

Over the next year, you clobbered your GOP opponents — deemed “Republicans in Name Only” by your supporters — in the primary and run-off elections. Finally, you bested your Democratic opponent in the general election. As expected in tight elections, both you and your opponents were critical of your each other in nasty television commercials, advertisements and mailers.

That was clear enough when mailers appeared in the mailboxes of voters across SD-10, slamming your Democratic opponent for everything from being anti-gun to advancing your own anti-LGBT issues. While your spokesman denied the connection to the anti-LGBT mailer sent by the NFC, my research revealed the all-too-cozy connections between your campaign network and the mailers.

Clearly you are willing to give criticism. But I’m concerned you may not be receptive to it, even if it’s rooted in fact.

That’s why I’m writing you. It may seem small, but I couldn’t help but wonder why you blocked me on Twitter. Because I’m a reporter who critically wrote about your campaign? (A sentiment not exclusive to you, I might add.) Because I culled through campaign finance and other records, leading to a story about the dark money and shady mailers surrounding your campaign operation? I knew journalism rankles feathers, but facts are facts.

I didn’t realize doing my job was such an ongoing threat. Of course, neither did Bethany Rodgers, a reporter with the Frederick, Md.’s News-Post, who was threatened with a lawsuit by Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter for using his name without his permission. #kirbydelauter

As of Jan. 13, you will be an elected official, #StateSenKonniBurton. That is exactly what you campaigned on. You got what you wanted. Hopefully you’ll also act like an elected official, too.

Sincerely,

James Russell

Dallas Voice

P.S.: You can follow me on Twitter @james4texas

—  James Russell

Rep. Louie Gohmert loses bid for House Speaker

Louie GohmertOn Sunday (Jan. 4), Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, announced his intention to challenge Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, for House Speaker.

“After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change,” he said in a statement. There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message. However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus [the spending bill] by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion.”

Today (Jan. 6), the first day of the new Congress, the raucous Tea Party Republican lost to Boehner. A last minute challenger, Rep. Dan Webster, R-Florida, even received more votes than Gohmert, 12-3.

Five candidates were formally nominated, including Boehner, Tea Party Republican Reps. Ted Yoho and Dan Webster, both of Florida, and former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

Boehner was expected to easily be re-nominated despite the challenges from the right-wing of his party. He was elected by a slim margin in January 2013 after a failed attempt by a faction of his caucus. At least 12 Democrats were attending former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s funeral, Politico noted, while others did not show up at all. Every absent Democrat lowered the threshold for the Ohio Republican’s re-election.

Four Democrats also bucked their party’s leadership and voted for a candidate other than Pelosi.

The Washington Post has a full list of defectors on both sides of the aisle here.

If you’re an avid Dallas Voice reader, you probably know all about Gohmert; a search of our archives alone yields 22 mentions. He’s well-known for his conspiracy theories and opposition to LGBT legislation. He called ENDA “a continuation of the Obama administration’s ‘war on religion.’” He was among the first inductees in HRC’s Hall of Shame last year and is a frequent recipient of the Advocate’s Phobie Awards.

Openly bisexual Rep. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, and one of the four Democrats to not vote for Pelosi, spoke for all of us when she did this:

—  James Russell

Guns, God and gays: first day of prefiling for upcoming Lege session

abaa8de7236b4022851ea2557e2d68b0dc212ddb6ea8b427616006bb297bd2cdToday is the first day for Texas legislators and members-elect to pre-file legislation for the 84th legislative session. This means you get to see just how crazy some of your newly and returning elected officials really are. Don’t worry everyone, the first day of pre-filing didn’t bring out the worst of your electeds just yet. Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, only filed a handful actually, so the worst is yet to come.

As of mid-afternoon, legislators have pre-filed 336 bills.

Rep. Walter “Four” Price, R-Amarillo, filed four bills commemorating the National Day of Prayer, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, filed HB 195, loosening restrictions on gun toting. Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, is gonna keep abortionists out of the classroom with HB 205.

But wait! LGBT people were recognized by our allies!

Out Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, filed HB 70, an anti-bullying bill preventing discrimination against and harassment of students in public schools based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, filed HJR34, one of many bills targeting the repeal of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban. As the Voice reported, Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, filed HB 130, repealing Texas’ same sex marriage ban. The identical SB 98, was filed by Sens. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and José Rodríguez, D-El Paso. Sen. Rodríguez also filed SB 148, repealing language condemning homosexuality in the state’s health and penal codes.

 

 

—  James Russell

Know your rights; make your vote count

U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Special Contributor

 

Unlike any other time in American history, it is important for all eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote on Nov. 4.

Recently, there has been significant dialogue regarding which party will control the House and the Senate in Washington. These conversations highlight a very real point: This election is critical to the future of minorities and middle-class Americans.

Voter engagement is crucial.

In minority communities, there is a common misconception that voter turnout is only important during presidential elections. But adhering to this school of thought could result in more than a decade of financial and political oppression.

It is not enough to see massive voter turnout in 2016; the same level of voter turnout must occur on Nov. 4.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, America’s first African-American president, the Republican Party has become the “Obstructionist” Party. During the current Congress, the GOP has done everything in its power to ensure the ineffective operation of our federal government. For example, in 2013 the Republican Party caused a government shutdown.

Now, with the help of the U.S.  Supreme Court, the Obstructionist Party has shifted its efforts to implementing new voter ID laws and unconstitutional “poll taxes” that block the votes of approximately 600,000 eligible voters in Texas.

The new Texas voter ID law lists state driver’s licenses, voter identification certificates, state ID cards, concealed gun permits, military IDs, citizenship certificates and passports as the only forms of permissible voter identification.

Student ID cards, issued by the state’s colleges and universities, and other forms of government identification, including a voter registration card, are not acceptable forms of ID under the law.

The ability to utilize concealed gun licenses as a form of acceptable voter identification highlights the reality that these new laws were created to favor a specific demographic, while disenfranchising others. Why would a state deliberately violate the civil rights of millions of its residents?

Research shows that if African-Americans and Latinos successfully turned out to vote, many so-called red states would become blue.

A Congress controlled by Democrats would guarantee a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. This would occur during the first 100 days of a new Congress.

Additionally, increased access to early childhood education would become a reality, and the Equal Pay Act, which ensures that women earn the same wages as their male counterparts, would go into effect.

But none of these vital changes will occur without proper voter education and participation.

To be prepared for the Nov. 4 election, I encourage all voters to prepare themselves by visiting www.sos.state.tx.us to confirm their registration status. Voters can also visit www.votetexasgov to learn their correct polling places, and know their rights.

Do not allow yourself to be denied your right to vote based on technicalities. Educate yourself and vote on Nov. 4 to strengthen our democracy.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson represents Texas’ 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. She is a longtime ally of the LGBT community.

—  Tammye Nash

Only seven Texans receive perfect score in HRC Congressional scorecard

TexasThe Human Rights Campaign today, Oct. 9 released its Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBT equality in the 113th Congress. Only seven of Texas’ 38-member delegation received perfect scores, even as results show record gains in support for LGBT equality.

Members of Congress were scored based on their votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality, and for the first time ever, their public support for marriage equality, according to a statement provided by HRC.

“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight for full LGBT equality,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC. “While we’ve made tremendous progress in gaining support from our elected officials in Congress, we certainly still have much to accomplish.”

His statement could not be more true, especially within the Texas delegation.

Of Texas’ 36 House representatives and two senators, only seven House Democrats received a 100 percent score. They are Reps. Al Green, Beto O’Rourke, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett, along with Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Other Texas Democrats had mixed scores: Rubén Hinojosa, 89 percent; Pete Gallego, Henry Cuellar and Gene Green, 68 percent; Filemon Vela, 84 percent. Gallego represents the only congressional swing district in Texas.

In the Republican camp, five Republicans received 30 percent: Louie Gohmert (no, really), Ted Poe, John Culberson, Pete Olson and Steve Stockman, who lost a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn earlier this year. Cornyn, by the way, scored zero while his colleague in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz, scored 20 percent.

To the North Texans looking at this list, unless you live in Johnson or Veasey’s district, your congressperson scored zero. A difference of 100 percent — 100 percent.

No other member of the local delegation even got brownie points for saying “gay.” That includes: Reps. Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.

(Don’t know who represents you? Click here and type in your info.)

Want to change that? Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 20 and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

—  James Russell